By Natasha Chamba
THE Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (Zera) has warned dealers against deliberately withholding or limiting fuel supplies for speculative purposes, saying culprits risk prosecution or will have their trading licences cancelled.
The country has lately been experiencing fuel shortages, with Energy and Power Development Minister Dr Joram Gumbo insisting that the market had adequate supplies, while the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) was doing its best to release foreign currency to oil companies for fuel procurement.
Zimbabwe needs 2,5 million litres of diesel and 1,5 million litres of petrol per day.
In a statement, Zera said it has come to its attention that there were isolated cases of service stations charging fuel prices that were above the regulated threshold.
“It has come to the attention of the Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority that some petroleum licensees are deliberately hoarding or limiting fuel supplies to consumers for speculative purposes,” said the regulator.
Such actions, Zera said, were in violation of the Petroleum (Fuel Pricing) (Amendment) Regulations, 2015 (No.1) published in Statutory Instrument 20 of 2015.
The Act prohibits the withholding of petroleum products for speculative purposes and charging fuel prices that are beyond the prescribed limits.
“Petroleum licensees are hereby warned to cease and desist from such criminal activities as they risk prosecution and cancellation of their licences. Zera compliance officers are on the ground assessing the situation,” it said.
The regulatory authority advised the public to report all fuel retailers suspected of deliberately withholding or limiting fuel supplies for speculative purposes.
“Members of the public are advised to report all fuel retailers who are suspected of deliberately withholding or limiting fuel supplies for speculative purposes. The public is also advised to report retailers who are charging fuel prices that are above the approved threshold to Zera.”
Hoarding fuel, the regulatory authority said, poses high risks of fires which can damage property, cause bodily harm or death.
“The use of containers increase chances of fuel contamination which compromises fuel quality and results in damage to motor engines,” it said.